The start of the 70s saw Shane & Iris living in Knotty Ash area of Liverpool, with their newly born son, with Shane earning a living touring the cabaret clubs of Northern England with The Shane Fenton Trio. In 1970 Shane aquires a new manager in Hal Carter,. And for Shane Fenton there was a couple more 45 single releases, Eastern Seaboard was released in May 1972 on the Billy Fury label, with the b side seeing a self penned song called “Blind Fool”. As far as we know this release failed to chart.. Another single was recorded later that year, again released on the Fury Label, called The Fly, and on the b side Perdona Mia, both written by Shane Fenton, but this time in an attempt to get chart success Shane released it under the name of Jo Jo Ellis. Both these singles appear from time to time for sale on auction sites.
Hal Carter at this time was managing two other sixties stars in Marty Wilde & Billy Fury, Peter Shelley was working with Wilde writing songs and planning to become a record producer. Shelley was offered a deal by Michael Levy who had just set up Magnet Records. Around the same time Glam Rock was beginning to take off in the UK. Peter Shelley had written a song called “My Coo Ca Choo” which was the very first release on the newly formed Magnet Record label, and was looking for someone to record it.
“I told Hal that I was looking for a certain type of singer” says Shelley, “ I told him the sort of person I was looking for was somebody who could sign rock ‘n’ roll, but who looked pretty mean. By early 1973 everyone had gone down the glitter route and I thought the time was right to go completely the opposite direction, but still have the presence to thrill an audience. I was thinking in my own mind of someone who would seem to be as mean as Mick Jager with the appearance of Elvis Presley, that was the sort of mental image that I’d got at the time. After offering the song to Marty Wilde & Vince Eager , Hal suggested I should meet with Shane Fenton”. My Coo Ca Choo was recorded on an eight track machine for a cost of £700. The name Shane Fenton was to sixties so a new name was sought. Shelley was also largely responsible for choosing Alvin Stardust’s name and shaping his image.
“ I drew up a list of different names to choose from, and at one stage we were all set to call him Elvin Greenbody. I’d discussed it with Shane and it was all but settled. We had taken the christian name from a combination of Elvis and Gene VINcent, and then we changed our minds about the “Greenbody” bit, thinking it wasn’t quite right and thought we’d call him Elvin Starr which then developed into Alvin Stardust, with the idea of playing around with the name ‘Stardust’ - we issued a press release that was very tongue in cheek saying that ‘Alvin was born in a moonbeam….’ And not saying who he really was, which was all playing up the secret identity thing”.
The single was released on the 5th October 1973 two months after it had been recorded and still they had no personal image in place for Alvin , who still had his natural fair hair. No press pictures were issued, just the press release and a jingle for Tony Prince to play on Radio Luxembourg with a deep voice saying “Who is Alvin Stardust?”.
After its released the record started to shoot up the charts and reached number 27 in the charts when a first appearance on Top of the Pops on the 15th November 1973 meant a new image had to be sought quick. At this time Shane still had his fair hair so trip down Oxford Street and the purchase of a bottle of black hair dye was required. In the hotel the dye was applied but it hand run down his cheeks and his hands were blackened, so another trip to the shops and two stick on sideburns and a pair of black gloves hid the offending dye stains, added to the look was a black leather cat-suit and large rings on the fingers and the new Alvin Stardust persona was born. Armed with this new look very little publicity was put out about the true identity of the artist, but the cover was blown on the very first outing when host Tony Blackburn saw through the disguise and asked “didn’t you used to be Shane Fenton?”. The single rocketed up the charts and reached number two, only kept of the top that year by the now iconic release of Slade’s mega hit “Merry Christmas Everybody.” The first Top of the Pops performance is still rated as one of the most stunning media performances in popular music. “My Coo Ca Choo “ was delivered without a smile, with a grace and stillness not previous seen previously (or since) and with total commitment, reviewers wrote of “The star who is forbidden to smile” tried to guess who he was , and had fun speculating about his stance and the unusual way of holding the microphone. 750,000 copies of this single were sold in the Uk and 1.5 million worldwide. It reached number one in Australia and Scandinavia and was top ten in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Belguim, and South Africa.
Alvin Stardust made his first live stage appearance at the Midem Gala at Palais de Festival, Cannes on the 23 Jan 1974. The follow up single release “Jealous Mind” was released on the 1st Feb 1974 followed by his first album “The Untouchable” on the 1st Mar 1974. On the 5th Mar “Jealous Mind” reaches number one and went on to sell 500.000 copies. While the album climbed to number four in the album charts. March also sees Alvin making live appearances in Viennia, Munich, Brussels, and Saltzberg, then a tour of the UK kicks off in Birmingham on the 12 March. Throughout the spring of 1974 Alvin tours the four corners of the UK and Ireland and performs at approx 55 venues in 11 weeks, not including countless appearances on TV and Radio shows. The end of March also sees the release of his third single “Red Dress” which is described by reviewers as an “insidious dance record” and Alvin introduces the “I need you” point into his act. which till this day still remains part and parcel of his image. It was at this point in 1974 and despite older audiences not appreciating modern pop stars that Alvin successfully moved his show onto the cabaret circuit. Alvin also insisted on on a free show for the children on Saturday afternoons as a condition for all future cabaret bookings. Throughout the summer and autumn of 1974 Alvin appeared in cabaret for a week run at Stockton Fiesta, Baileys Derby, Winter Gardens Blackpool, Blighty’s Bolton, Bailey’s Farmworth, Bailey’s Leicester Fiesta Sheffield & Batley Variety Club.
August sees the release of “You You You” and the autumn a European tour, taking in Copenhagen, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf and Hanover. He also files to Madrid for two Spanish TV appearances and to Paris for two French TV shows. November see the fifth single released, “Tell Me Why?” And his second album called “Alvin Stardust”. Many appearences on Top of the Pops that year sees him on the Xmas edition for that year. January 1975 sees his next single release, “Good Love Can Never Die” and further apshows at cabaret venues up and down the country. Also that year a top of the bill appearance on TVs Wheeltappers & Shunters Club, when host Bernard Manning intoduces him as Elvin Stardust.. March sees him off on an promotional tour of Australia, New Zealand & Japan. On return to the UK more cabaret club shows, record releases and his third album “Rock With Alvin” keep him busy.
The hits stopped after that, but Stardust had already made plans for the future. He had already dropped the leather and the scowl, while his last two singles, in particular, had revealed a sensitive side to the once-demonic performer. With an audience which now included as many parents as children, he turned his attention towards the rock & roll revival circuit and remained a successful live draw well into the early '80s.
Throughout the later part of the 70s despite the emergence of Punk and disco, Alvin continues to tour, and make recordings. The 50’s Rock & Roll sound that had inspired him in his youth was re-emerging in the late 70s and early 80s. Rock & Roll classics were always a significant part of Shane/ Alvins 60s & 70s stage performances and now alvin recorded new songs in that genre. Late ‘79 saw the TV show “Oh Boy” come to our screens and Alvin joined Lulu, Joe Brown, Les Grey, Shankin’ Stevens both on the ATV TV series and a stage show at the Astoria Theatre in London. An “Oh Boy “ compilation LP was released in August 1979.